Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Irene Dunne

December 20 1898-September 4 1990
 
It's because of stars like Irene Dunne that I don't have much faith in the Academy Awards AKA the "Oscars". This beautiful and talented woman was nominated a total of five times and yet never won once. While I certainly don't believe that the worth/talent of a actor/actress is defined by a gold statuette of a man, I do think that it was a shame that she was not recgonised at least once by the academy for the contributions she made to film, at least not until after death. 

But, whatever. I guess you can't change the past...  Despite not winning an Oscar, Irene Dunne is still hailed by critics and the public alike as one of the finest actresses from her era.  I personally  am relatively  new to Irene Dunne. I know, I know. You're all probably wondering, how the hell I missed this  talented woman in a ll my years of obsessive watching of old cinema? Truth is I have no idea.  In all the classics she has starred in, you would hve thought that I would have come across her before last year, but no. 
 
I first saw Irene Dunne in Penny Serenade when I was about sixteen and a half.  The movie starring Cary Grant also was a touching look at a newlywed couple who unable to have a baby of their own due to a tragic accident, decide to adopt. The film though towards the end especially can ''jump'' (for lack of better word) over certain things hurriedly, is a very touching and beautifully acted movie. When I first saw it on ABC at one o'clock in the morning, I was touched.  I of course already knew who Cary Grant was, but this woman, the woman who played his wife- she was so touching in her scenes and every word she uttered I believed with all my heart and soul. She was good, I had decided. And mentally stored her name in my brain to IMDB later- except I didn't. 

I'm ashamed to say I crawled to bed that night and very nearly forgot the movie Penny Serenade and the actress Irene Dunne in it.  It was not until my mum came home a few months later with some cheap old classic dvds for me, that I remembered. Mum bought home ''Penny Serenade" "Life with father" and "The Awful Truth." All starring Irene Dunne, and suddenly it all clicked.

It was like a sign from old hollywood-  that I HAD to know who Irene Dunne was.And I was only too happy to oblige.


I still have yet to see a lot of her films only a few that I have outlined but my fascination with this woman keeps growing. Perhaps it's because she didn't exactly fit the mold of exact perfection expected  back then (back then? who am I kidding, it's STILL expected now). She was beautiful, but she was also slightly older then what was usually expected of a star and she had what people like Lana Turner only dreamt off; Talent.  Talent that saw her through a long and celebrated career.  She wasn't afraid to show her vulnerable side, she was willing to take risks, she was in short the epitome of what every good actress should be.
 
And even though she didn't win an Oscar while alive, she managed to win the public's hearts- back then, now and forever will  as long as there is obsessive people like us clinging to the golden era of Hollywood, to respect and admire her. :)


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's that time of year again...

It's the Holiday period once agian. Whether you are Jewish,  Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, black, white, Asian or even pink with orange polkadots- whatever, I hope you all have a happy safe and enjoyable Holidays!! :)

I know that I have not been on this blog for quite some time, I promise I have not forgotten about it nor have I abondened it. I have recently gone through a transitional stage, which has involved me moving once again to another town. It has been somewhat emotionally draining and also psychically   tiring to leave all that you have slowly become accustomed to to go back to a place you thought you wouldn't be coming back to, but I am here. And I am happy, and I think that once this Christmas/Holiday period is over I will be posting more and more in this blog.  I have been fortunate enough to have seen a great many old movies that I had not seen before- so look out cyberspace, Nelly's back and she's ready to ramble!! XD

So that's it for now, I guess. Just wanted to wish you all a wonderful, safe and Holiday period and I will see you all in 2011 (Gosh, can you believe it?? 2011! Already! Wow!) :) What's everyone got planned? Seeing family? Working (ew)? Going on a holiday?? I know what I will be doing; Absolutely nothing. I'm going to be sitting there on Christmas morning, opening my pressies and just kicking back and relaxing... That is until about noon when my mother and I have to go to my nana's to eat our traditional annual Christmas lunch... Mmmmm, I can already taste the glazed ham, the roasted vegetables, the deserts.... Yummmy.... *drools*

Ahem.

 My apologies.

Anyway, yeah... See you soon!

Much love to you all,

Nelly xoxo

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some fave hairstyles.

A sort of girly/fangirl post.

It's no secret that I really love the fashions of old Hollywood. Vintage= win, in my eyes.  I very lightly touched on this subject before, with a post on Ms. Bette Davis' beautiful costume from the film Jezebel... I also absolutely adore some of the hairstyles from this period too. I particularly love 1940s hair styles, but I have a fondness for a few others too.

I didn't include every hair trend I liked, because if  I did, this post would be never ending, but I thought that I would show a few of my faves. You will notice that I adore curls, particularly. They are a major, major, win in my books. Every chance I get, I attempt to curl my hair in a manner that is vintage...

And no one rocked the curls better then;

Mary Pickford. 

There have been rumours that her famous curls were in actual fact a wig... I don't care either way. They're absolutely beautiful!!!  My absolute favorite of all hairstyles. :)

Here are some other hairstyles that I often glance enviously at and wish that somehow my hair would be obliging enough to let me make it at least half as pretty as some of these ladies. But alas, not all our wishes come true, do they? Ah well. 



Veronica Lake. (Kind of an obvious one, nearly everyone loves her hair). 


 Rita Hayworth.



Louise Brooks.


Audrey Hepbrun <3 

It's interesting also to note that even after all these years, that vintage glamor, in particular it's hair trends  are even more popular then ever...








Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fathers.

It's fathers day in Australia today and as such I thought that I would look back on some noteable fathers/fatherly figures that graced our screens back then. None of these are in any particular order.



George Bailey, It's A Wonderful Life. 
Who can ever forget the story of George Bailey? A young, inspiring  man who wanted nothing more in life to explore, to have adventures. A selfless man, husband and father, who kept putting others before him always, until one day after an unfortunate mistake seemingly made by his Uncle Billy, who misplaces a large sum of money that belongs to the building and loans, George snaps. He even wishes that he had never been born. Enter Clarence, a angel who has not yet earnt his wings, who grants George his wish... George gets to see the world and what it would be like, had he never been born. A world where he has no wife, his friends and family's life's are a catastrophe and his children don't even exist.   He begins to realise that though he may never have gone to Africa or Europe or anything like that, he has a home, wife, kids, a family, friends, who all love him and who he in turn loves back.


Stanley T Banks, Father of The Bride. 
Stanley Banks, the father of the bride... Like most fathers, he does not like one bit that his daughter is now old enough to attract attention from boys, let alone MARRY them. A kind, often stubborn man. Stanley represents the every day father, who though sometimes may be a tad too overboard in showing it, loves and want to protect their kids for as long as they can, especially from possible  handsome fiances!

Charlie Chaplin or ''The Tramp'', The Kid. 
This silent film is truly one of the best films I have ever seen. Charlie the Tramp, finds a small baby who has been abondened by his desperate mother, who vows one day to refind him... Charlie raises the boy as his own for many years, until one day the authorities come to take the boy away... A powerful movie, that shows that just because you are not blood related, doesn't mean you can't still be a father. 


Alfie Doolittle, My Fair Lady.

Ahaha. Okay. I concede, Alfie Doolittle is by no means a wonderful father. The only time he ever see's his daughter is to get money of her to get a drink or three from the pub. Loud, brash and out to only survive for himself, Alfie still surprisingly comes off as charming and easily likeable in the movie. So yeah, maybe not the best of dads, but hey, he had a few catchy tunes in the movie, right?! 

Judge Hardy, in The Andy Hardy Pictures.
Judge Hardy. The reliable and dependble father, the one his kids could talk to about anything. The problem solver, the soother of the situations... He seemingly knew how to deal with everything, nothing was too big of a problem to solve and nothing was too stupid or silly to talk about. Well, after all he was a judge, so he was by no means unintelligent. He is one of my personal favorites. <3 


Fagin, Oliver Twist.

Yeah, Fagin encouraged the boys he took in from the streets, to steal hardly good fatherly advice. But when one takes into account the time period in which Oliver Twist was set, the boys could have ended up in far worse of situations. Fagin was basically like a foster parent, taking in all sorts of kids to look after. And while stealing and encouraging it are hardly admirable traits, back then it was a very hard world, they all had to survive somehow.  He also seemed to legitimately care about the boys as well. 


Captain Von Trapp, Sound of Music
The father who loves his children, but after a unfortunate event in the family that took his wife's life, he doesn't know how to show it exactly.  The most touching scene in this movie for me is when the children are singing for the first time to the Baroness, and the Captain, seemingly amazed that music and beauty could once again survive in the house, goes to watch them, then joins in with the singing much to the shock of them all- eventually hugging and kissing each .. It pulls at my heart strings.  :) 

Gepetto, Pinocchio.
Gepetto the elderly man who wants nothing more then a son to call his own, makes a puppet who comes alive thanks to the Blue Fairy.  There is only one catch however, Pinocchio is indeed alive, but still wooden, he must prove his worht to be able to become a real boy or he will turn back to a mere puppet. Gepetto shows that a fathers love can indeed be very strong, as he stops at nothing to try and find Pinocchio who goes missing- even ending up in a whales stomach!

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.
 The epitome of fathers everywhere, in my opinion. Intelligent, kind, willing to help everyone and anyone. Atticus is not afraid to stick up for what he believes in, and loves  his children to the death. He is willing to do anything for Jem and Scout, and it's because of this that Atticus is willing to defend a black man in court, when the social times and the rest of the town seemingly all say not too; because he believes it is the right thing to do, to help an innocent man in his time of need. 

I know I left out HEAPS of others out there, but I only did a few. If you have any others you want to share, that would be great!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wizard of Oz VS. Gone With The Wind


 Silly Banner made by me.

WARNING long rambling possibly boring post ahead, read at your own risk! XD 

A new sort of game I like to play.  Like two competitors in a boxing ring I take two subject matters, it can be anything or everything.  Like two celebrities, two songs and obviously, two movies, and ''VS" them off against one another. In an attempt to decide which one is 'better' then the other. It's going to be hard, because both are very different films. One is considered more adult and the other more child-like. Still, these two films are undoubtedly two of the most famous ones to exist from 1939, a year that saw very many classics produced. It will be tough, yes. And it will be certainly be more then a little unfair, but that's the fun of it! What's life without a bit of challenges? And even if I end up failing terribly at this, at least I got to explore two of my favorite films in such detail... Of course this is all my personal opinion and I understand lots of people wouldn't agree with it. But I thought this would be fun anyway. :)
I chose, as you probably can see, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Comments and opposing arguments/points are very much appreciated. :D

Gone With The Wind
 Lets get ready to rumbllleeeee!! *DING DING*

1939. 
Directed primarily by Victor Fleming. 
Produced by David O. Selznick. 
Filmed in technicolor. 
Duration; nearly 4 hrs.
Often hailed as one of the best films of all time Gone With The Wind, has stood the test of time. Though by today's standards the ideals and subject matter expressed by the individuals/characters in the movie are outdated, the lasting effect of Gone With The Wind is so strong that it still continues to delight audiences, seventy one years after it was first released. 

  The story as most will know is set during The Civil War, and also after it. Showing how war can effect you even after it is long finished. The main character Scarlett O'Hara is an unlikeable, yet at the same time strangely likeable, selfish shrewd woman. Who deludes herself to be in love with Ashley, when we all know that it is Rhett she should be with. Add together more characters such as Mammy, Melanie, Belle, Pork, etc, one hell of a musical score  and add all sorts of twists and turns, and you're bound to be in store for one hell of a ride. 

Pretty dress :)

When it was first released Gone With The Wind was an instant smash hit. Based on the hugely popular book with the same name, Gone With The Wind went on to break box office records everywhere and also, go on to win 8 oscars, including Best picture and also best supporting actress, for Hattie McDaniel, the first african-american to win such an award. 

The appeal of the book and the movie, as I said before, are so strong that they still continue to sell very well and enchant audiences. Gone With The Wind has found a place in pop culture and mainstream society, and is constantly referenced to openly by different forms of media... 
I personally love this film. It has everything, right? Romance, action, war, friendships. It was not afraid to show human nature at it's worst as well as showing it at it's best.  It is interesting that this film was made in 1939, a year were an unprecedented amount of classics were produced. It is primarily, among being a epic romance it is also in my opinion any way a anti-war story, and yet it was in this very year that World War Two began. Hmmm.

It is very long, that is true. And as such it puts of a lot of people viewing it. ut the actresses, actors and the general tone of the movie are very good and still hold up even in today's standards.  I think the appeal of this film lays also in the fact that it was filmed in color, which, let's face it, is always going to win more votes in this modern day, then a black and white movie. 
Yes, Gone With The Wind, despite your own opinions of whether you may like it or not, had a profound effect on cinema. It was one of the first ''Blockbusters'' akin to something like Titanic, Avatar, etc. 

But despite that all, is it as universally recognized as Wizard of Oz? Is it better then Wizard of Oz? Is it as LOVED as Wizard of Oz?  

*dramatic music here* Only time will tell. 


                                  
     

The Wizard of Oz 
1939. 
Directed primarily by Victor Fleming.
Filmed primarily in Technicolor, using Sepia in the begining and the end. 
Duration; nearly two hours.

Contrary to the myth that circulates this movie, Wizard of Oz was NOT a flop. It wasn't a smash hit either, but it was very warmly received by the public, and certainly put Judy Garland more on the map. This is evident by the two oscars the film received. 
This movie was based on the first of the popular children book series. It diverted a lot from it's original material, but nonetheless managed to capture the spirit of the books. A musical, The Wizard of Oz features some of the most recognizable songs in history, particularly, the iconic song ''Somewhere over the Rainbow."

Like Gone With The Wind this movie is one of the most easily recognizable films from the Golden Era today. The Wizard Of Oz popularity grew more and more as the years went on, thanks to viewings of television, videos and DVDs. It too is quoted and referenced often.  It is the epitome of children fantasy- and unlike Gone With The Wind, it is a movie the whole family can watch at any age and enjoy. 
The film is about a young girl who lives in the dreary sepia world of Kansas, with her aunty and uncle and her little dog. After being caught up in a hurricane that carries away her house, while she is in it, the house lands in a magical technicolor land called OZ and on a wicked witch who possesses red ruby magical slippers. After a series of events; including her being rewarded said magical slippers in thanks for killing the evil witch, making an enemy of the sister of the dead witch (who also happens to be quite evil, green and wants the slippers for herself) and a delightful merry song to set the tone for the rest of the movie, we watch Dorothy struggle to find the Wizard Of Oz, the only person who can seemingly help her to return back home along with her new friends Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, each of whom need something from the wizard too, a heart, a brain and courage.

I think the appeal of Wizard of Oz is strong to those that are in touch with their inner child. Since I have yet to really grow up, I still adore this film very much. It is a staple in most young childrens viewings and is still magical and terrifying (I mean, come on, who when younger WASN'T afraid of the green wicked witch?!)  as it  was all those years ago. The Wizard of Oz is very much an icon. People don't associate it as an old movie, they just see it as it is- a magical escape. Audiences of that time could sort of relate because they were doing it hard back then, so everyone could understand the notion of wanting to escape to a more prettier, more different world. It's one of those rare films that are both timeless and watchable by anyone- Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows what the Wizard of Oz is. 




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One of my favorite costumes of all time

I love this dress (Bette Davis, Jezebel 1938, Warner Bros).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Be careful what you wish for, it may just come true.



I am a big believer in the restoration of movies. Not replacing any original material or what not, but I am a believer in using modern technology to make films from so long go look and sound more attractive…

I think it makes it so much easier for the viewer to watch and  I find restored movies are not as distracting as a unrestored copy of the movie may have been. The reason I am blubbering about this is because I recently bought The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was first released in the year of 1945.

  Perhaps you have heard about the story, it’s a fairly renowned one. Or perhaps you were one of the few people who saw the newly made adaptation of the story that released only a year ago starring Colin Firth.  I have to admit that though I began to read the classic tale written by Oscar Wilde, I did not finish it all. So I had no real ideawhat I was really getting into when I first inserted my dvd into my PS2... Little did I know that I was going to enter a world very strange and different to my own; but at the same time seemingly real and very hypnotic.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, is one of the oddest and finest films I have ever seen. I think it was perfectly executed and I think that George Sanders and Angela Lansbury in particular shine the most in the film. But I will get to the actors, story and all that later. Let me fist fan girl annoyingly over the sheer quality of the copy I purchased.

O…M…G.

I swear when it first began, I began to drool, because seriously it was picture perfect. Every little detail could clearly be seen, the lighting was all the more effective, there was no annoying crackle that some older movies have due to deterioration or anything. Everything about it from the first moment it began was flawless. The sound was pitch perfect and I don’t even have a HD tv or dvd player or anything like that. So I’m double excited.

I just find it so totally awesome that this little movie I bought for like six bucks, was so brilliantly restored. Then I realized that it had been re-distrubted by the Warner Brothers Company, and I smiled.  Warner Brother’s truly seems to be  doing its best to give us the best quality of old films (I have copies of Gone With The Wind and All About Eve, that were BEAUTIFULLY restored and redistrubted by the Warners Bro. company). I guess it’s because they’re the only ‘old film studio’ that is still very successful… I think they still want everyone to know about the films and time that made them such a major studio, by re-releasing the old movies.

And probably why they’re redistributing major films of MGM and RKO, I dunno…. Hmmm, I shall have to look into that.

 But anyway I’m off on  a tangent again, I apologise. You will soon find that sometimes I will write and blabber on. Don’t worry you will get used to it ;)

Anyway where was I?

Oh yeah, the movie.

So needless to say the quality was freakin fantastic. I mean seriously, I had to go back to the beginning because I was fangirling so much over the sheer quality that I missed the opening sequence… I am glad I did go back to the start or else I would have missed some of the best moments of the film.


  Dorian Gray

Now that I have undoubtedly bored you all to tears with my over long fangirling, let me delve into the movie itself.

The movie is primarily filmed in black and white. I say primarily because there are four sequences in the film that are filmed in beautiful technicolor. I was so surprised to read that that was how it was actually filmed, I thought that many years later some clever little restorers re-colored certain scenes, but no, that’s how it was actually filmed and viewed in 1945. To me that is simply astounding, I am not sure why it is, but it is.  It certainly gave a wonderful effect.

Dorian Gray is a young, easily led astray, handsome gentleman who permits Basil Hallward to do a portrait of him… Lord Henry Wotten is, in short, a wicked man. Well perhaps not wicked, but he certainly is the one who sets Dorian on to his path of doom, he is very idealistic, very bitter, very dark, sometimes unfeeling and always expresses his opinion even when not asked. It is while visiting Basil, his friend and meeting Dorian the first time, that  Henry does just that.

He praises the work of his friend Basil, who had now finished the portrait of Dorian in almost exact detail, taking time to loudly observe how handsome Dorian Gray is and what a pity it would be when Dorian grew old and gray and lost his youth. He cautions Dorian to enjoy his youth now because soon he will be old and regretful.

Thus plants the mad seed within Dorian’s head, the seed of thought and obsession over age and aging… Dorian wishes foolishly out loud that the beautiful portrait of himself, and not he, would age and bear the signs of experiences, while he, Dorian himself remained unchanged, looking like  a youth of twenty-two, forever…  He even says that he’d be willing to sell his soul or trade his soul for such a thing to happen.

You know what they say, right? Be careful what you wish for…

The movie shows the effects of having such a wish granted, the life Dorian ultimately has because of his obsessions and mad thoughts. It also shows how easily led astray he is by the manipulative Henry. As time goes on and unfortunate and dark things began to happen to and be caused by Dorian Gray, the portrait begins to change,  while Dorian remains seemingly ageless, the painting starts to reflect the change of  the person it was based on… As Dorian becomes more self absorbed, mean and cruel, the painting changes accordingly to show just how disgusting he has now become. And the end result is not a pretty one.

Though the story in an overview sounds very simplistic it is anything but. The movie is a fascinating insight to human nature, the struggles in which all of man kind deal with, how easy it is to be easily lead astray and how easy it is to let your life and the world around you become dark and darker.

The movie is quite simply, very intense. Even in today’s standards it still shocks people. I have to say that each time the canvas of the painting was shown in technicolor, I gasped. Because the image was still very gruesome and indeed, I am not ashamed to admit this, frightening.

The wonderful use of lighting, music, stage craft and camera angles really helped build the suspense.  It is, ladies and gentlemen, black and white film at it’s best.  The switch to color when we view the portrait to see how demented and strange the painting has become, really made it all the more clear how dark and disturbed Dorian had become and also I think it was a clever way of showing the ‘true colors of his soul’.

The costumes were beautiful, the make up… Oh my god the make up. And I don’t just mean the beautiful and glamorous make up of Angela Lansbury and Donna Reed, no I mean the make up at the end of Dorian Gray (or perhaps it was a dummy… either way it does not matter) was extremely haunting.  It was very witty and funny and I think above all, intelligent. No doubt this is because it was adapted from Oscar Wilde, still it’s nice to see intelligent ‘horror’ every now and then.

The movie is not without it’s flaws though, it is sometimes very long and very dialogue orientated, which I suppose cannot be helped, given it’s source.  But still it was very much worth sitting through the dull moments, to get to the good bits.
          


Some of the cast;

George Sanders is the stand out for me. I have only ever seen him in All About Eve, in which he made a great impression on me then too.  Now I know without doubt that he was one of the best actors of his generation- his voice can literally make you feel placated in one instance and horrified the next moment.  He was surprisingly very subtle in terms of technique something that was rarely seen in the 1930s-1940s particularly.

Angela Lansbury also deserves recognition for her performance, it is unlike any that I have seen her in. Poor dear, she was so na├»ve in this film.  And so beautiful.  She plays Dorian’s first ‘love’ and her ultimate death, spins Dorian into a life of selfishness and darkness. I think that it was a brave role for her, considering the other roles she had taken during that time (The Harvey Girls, for instance).  I like that she took a risk and that it very much paid off.  She is very memorable.

For some reason I love Peter Lawford. I know he was usually only on screen in any film for small periods of time, but there’s something about him that I very much like, so I enjoyed seeing him in this movie, in the small but nonetheless important role  of David Stone.

Donna Reed looked very beautiful in this film, but I found her bland. She stars as Dorian’s second love, his true love. She was very sweet and lovely, but as I said far too bland for my liking in this film, this is my personal opinion.

And last but not least Hurd Hatfield, who played the title character. He was very good, at times for whatever reason he reminded me psychically of Laurence Olivier, but they looked nothing alike! Oh well.  He delivered a very well rounded performance of a tortured soul and sometimes you felt  pity for him but most of the time you just wated to hit him over the head with a bread stick or something.  He was good, but he wasn’t as good as George or Angela.

This movie though made so many years ago, still holds up even to modern days audiences. The images in the film that were so horrifying to people back then, are still just as horrifying now. Which is not always the case.

I liked it a lot.  And if you like ‘horror’ you should too. 

The end result of a life of cruelty and unkindness...


All images belong to Warner Bros, MGM and the actors/actresses themselves. All links to where I got the images are provided for, if anyone has a problem with me using said images, let me know. I am in no way related to any of the actors, movie studios or whatnot. I am however very tired, it is 4.16 AM. The joys of studying, eh? >.<